Dec 05, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
If it’s the first weekend in December, then it must mean that the Fayetteville-Manlius girls cross country team is in Oregon, laying claim to a national championship.
Further establishing itself as the nation’s best program, the Hornets withstood the efforts of 21 determined challengers to win the Nike Cross Nationals at Portland Meadows Race Track for the fourth consecutive year.
F-M, running as the Manlius XC Club, earned 74 points, easily outpacing the runner-up, Saratoga Springs’ Kinetic XC Club, who had 147 points. Fort Collins (Col.) was third with 161 points.
Here was an example of how the Hornets’ sheer depth overwhelmed the competition. F-M flew across the country with only one small issue – the health of Courtney Chapman, who is the Section III and state Class AA individual champion.
Chapman fell ill just before the Nike Regionals on Nov. 28 at Bowdoin Park, and that played a big role in her finishing sixth out of seven F-M competitors. But with the abundant talent coach Bill Aris had on reserve, Chapman could improve her health without worrying on how it might affect her teammates’ performance.
Sure enough, once in Portland, F-M attacked as a whole unit, which prove more powerful than anything that could get in the way. The Hornets dominated without putting a single runner in the individual top 20, as Iowa’s Catherine Flood, from Des Moines, took the individual crown in 17 minutes, 47.2 seconds.
It was sophomore Katie Sischo that would lead the Hornets on this day, as she covered the 3.0-mile Portland Meadows course in a time of 18:14.9 for 21st place, 11th among team competitors.
Just two seconds behind Sischo was senior Molly Malone, working her way to 24th (13th team) place in 18:16.9, and Chapman was next, finishing in 18:20 flat for 26th place (15th team), while freshman Jillian Fanning claimed 28th place (16th team) in 18:23.1.
When senior Mackenzie Carter crossed the line in 36th place (19th team) in 18:31.3, F-M had locked up another national championship. Hannah Luber was 54th (25th team), in 18:46.4, with sophomore Heather Martin running to 75th place (37th team) in a clocking of 19:04.5.
Also at the Nike Nationals, F-M’s boys team distinguished itself with a ninth-place finish in a field of 22 teams with 270 points. In a tightly-bunched field, Boerne XC Club edged South Spokane, 195 points to 201, for the top spot.
Paul Merriman led the Hornets, finishing 75th among individuals (39th team) in a time of 16:08.9. A second behind him, Mark McGurrin was 78th and Andrew Roache 79th, both in a time of 16:09.9. Brendan Farrell (16:25.0), Joe Hartnett (16:29.2), Ben Thomas (17:09.6) and Owen Strong (17:12.2) rounded out the field.